Danish ISPs agree to move in concert to block rights-infringing content

A court order aimed at one ISP will be acted upon by all

Danish ISPs have agreed that if one service provider is ordered by a court to block a website or copyrighted content, all ISPs will do the same, the Danish Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday. Licensees only have to take legal action against one service provider to get a country-wide blockade.

The telecom industry agreed with rights holders that all service providers will respect a final decision by a court when the court orders a block on customers' access to an illegal service, said Astrid Haug, chief press officer of the Danish Ministry of Culture on Friday. To formalize this agreement the rights holders and the service providers will sign a code of conduct, she added.

Until now, copyright holders had to pursue the blocking of sites or content that they said infringed on their rights by filing separate lawsuits against every ISP, Haug explained. This is going to change. "After the summer holidays we are going to implement the new agreement," she said, declining to give an exact date for the new practice to begin. It will be an automated process in which the service provider that is ordered to ban illegal content will communicate the court's decision to the other companies, according to Ministry documents.

Andrea D'Incecco, head of policy at EuroISPA, a pan-European association of ISPs, said his organization still must discuss the Danish Code of Conduct in more detail. But, he emphasized, "Blocking is not an efficient way to deal with illegal content." It is relatively easy to circumvent blockades, he added.

The Danish code of conduct is one of a series of initiatives of the Ministry of Culture aimed at making it easier to use creative online content legally, the Ministry said in a press release. These "will strengthen the development of legal content services, and at the same time will motivate consumers to choose legal solutions," the Ministry said, adding that the initiatives will also focus on rights holders' continued efforts to limit online piracy.

In April 2011, the Danish Committee on Copyright on the Internet proposed to start sending targeted information to consumers whose Internet connections were being used for copyright infringement. But the Ministry has elected to hold off on implementing this while it waits to gauge the effects of other anti-piracy measures.

The Ministry also said it will strive to make Danish wireless Internet connections more secure so unencrypted Wi-Fi networks cannot be misused for anonymously pirating content.

Rights holders and the Consumer Council will also launch a campaign to increase awareness of the many ways to legally access music, movies, e-books amongst others, the Ministry said.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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